Asthma is a disease that affects the breathing passages of the lungs (bronchioles). Asthma is caused by chronic (ongoing, long-term) inflammation of these passages. This makes the breathing passages, or airways, of the person with asthma highly sensitive to various "triggers."
Because asthma causes resistance, or obstruction, to exhaled air, it is called an obstructive lung disease. The medical term for such lung conditions is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. COPD is actually a group of diseases that includes not only asthma but also chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Like any other chronic disease, asthma is a condition you live with every day of your life. You can have an attack any time you are exposed to one of your triggers. Unlike other chronic obstructive lung diseases, asthma is reversible.
Asthma is on the rise in the United States and other developed countries. We are not sure exactly why this is, but these factors may contribute.
Asthma is a very common disease in the United States, where more than 17 million people are affected. A third of these are children. Asthma affects all races and is slightly more common in African Americans than in other races.
Asthma has many costs to society as well as to the individual affected.
The good news for people with asthma is that you can live your life to the fullest. Current treatments for asthma, if followed closely, allow most people with asthma to limit the number of attacks they have. With the help of your health-care provider, you can take control of your care and your life.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/13/2015
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
Must Read Articles Related to Asthma
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Asthma:
Asthma - Triggers
What are your asthma triggers?
Asthma - Attack
What happens during your asthma attacks?
Asthma - Medications
What medications do you take for asthma?
Asthma - Home Remedies
Do you use home remedies to help control your asthma?
Asthma Attack - Symptoms
What are your asthma symptoms?
Asthma - Effective Treatments
What kinds of treatments have been effective for your asthma?
Asthma - Diagnosis
What are your asthma diagnosis?